New York, NY - His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of over 250 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, will return to Istanbul, Turkey today following a seven day visit to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Yesterday he offered a lecture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and later attended a dinner at the Museum sponsored by the American Associates of the Saint Catherine Foundation.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew delivered a major address on the new Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition, "Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557)," before a capacity audience of over 750 people on Thursday, March 18. His All Holiness was introduced by Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, who reflected on the Patriarch's worldwide efforts on ecumenical relations and on his work to promote "peace and justice all over the world."
In his address, titled "Byzantine Icons: A Legacy of Humanism," the Ecumenical Patriarch compared the images and likenesses portrayed through icons with the likeness of humans in the image of God and their humanistic legacy. His All Holiness, in his conclusion said, "As you visit this extraordinary and magnificent exhibition, "Byzantium: Faith and Power", in this splendid museum, please take your time to contemplate one of the greatest human achievements: the Byzantine Icon, an achievement of an incomparable art, which manages to combine what is beautiful and artistically exquisite with truly divine messages. These messages offer to us today, as they have throughout many centuries in the past, the most refreshing, most powerful and most creative insights into a genuine and truly human humanism, a humanism which begins with God, grows with God and culminates with God transforming the human being into a partaker of the Divine Nature."
On Thursday evening, His All Holiness was the honored guest at a gala dinner sponsored by the American Associates of the Saint Catherine Foundation in the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum. The Foundation supports conservation work at Saint Catherine's Monastery at Mt. Sinai. The Monastery's Library is the present focus of their activities. Guests included Honorary Chairpersons, President George H.W. Bush and Mrs. Barbara Bush; President of the Foundation and Chairman, Crown Princess Katherine of Yugoslavia and His Eminence Archbishop Damianos of Sinai.
A longtime supporter of Saint Catherine's, His Royal Highness Prince Charles of Wales, sent a recorded message on "The Monastery of Saint Catherine: A Priceless Gift and Compelling Challenge for Our Generation." President Bush spoke on "The Wisdom of Mount Sinai, Our Common Heritage," and Dr. Helen C. Evans, Curator of Medieval Art at the Metropolitan, spoke on the importance of the new exhibition. Over 450 guests attended the gala, preceded by a preview of the new exhibition and a reception.